Cebu medical tourism potential up

By CHRISTIAN WAKEFIELD, Reporter

A CHIEF medical practitioner from Abu Dhabi yesterday said Cebu, with its modern medical facilities, friendly people, and world-class tourism facilities, holds a high potential to become one of the country’s top medical tourism destination.

Chief Medical Officer Faleh Almasabi, one of the more than 150 delegates to the 4th World Health Tourism Congress (WHTC), yesterday said delegates from UAE will be reevaluating and reformalizing talks with local medical facilities for possible partnership in the promotion of medical and wellness tourism.

“I was surprised to see Cebu during our short visit here and I can say that the province has a high potential in the field of medical and wellness tourism” said Almasabi, who stressed that he will visit Cebu again for a longer period of time.

Despite the limited number of days, Almasabi said he was awed by the warm hospitality of the Cebuanos, more so with the surprisingly advanced medical facilities in the province, which he admitted to not heard of that much in the past.

“What Cebu can offer in terms of medical tourism is surprising. The place is also far from the industrial noise and the hassle of a metropolis,” said Almasabi.

During their site tour of the different resorts, hotels, and hospitals in Cebu, the delegates, who came from the different parts of the world, claimed the province is one of the best medical tourism destination in the world with its advance medical facilities, friendly people, and world-class tourism-related amenities.

The delegates were hosted by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Tourism 7 Director Pat Roa, and local chapters of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (Naitas).

Meanwhile, a source said Kuwait Airlines is now conducting research and feasibility study on its plan to open up three weekly flights from Kuwait to Cebu, which is seen as a booster to the province’s vibrant tourism atmosphere.

Naitas Chairman Emeritus and former Kuwait Airlines District Sales Manager Robert Lim Joseph said he was informed that Kuwait Airlines is now considering a three-time a week direct flight to Cebu that will bring Arab tourists to the province.

“The direct flights would mean a significant increase in the number of tourists from the Middle East to Cebu,” said Joseph.

Even in the absence of a direct flight, around 2,400 Kuwaiti students are now enrolled in the University of Visayas in Cebu City, increasing the Middle East tourist arrivals in Cebu.

Tourism Undersecretary Phineas Alburo said the arrivals of these Kuwaiti students “came as a pleasant surprise” to DOT, which learned that these students had direct communication with UV.

“They are helping us in these times when occupancy (in hotels) is low. They’re filling in the gap (left by the crisis),” Alburo said.

The UV distance learning program requires Kuwaiti students to study in the school for seven days.

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